François Legault came out of his meeting with Justin Trudeau more confident than ever to reach an agreement to increase federal health funding. In terms of infrastructure, Quebec and Ottawa have agreed to assume their respective shares of the cost overruns of projects such as the Quebec tramway, the blue line in Montreal and the Lac-Mégantic bypass.
Remember that the provinces have been asking Ottawa for several years to increase its contribution to funding their health care system from 22% to 35%.
PHOTO POOL THE CANADIAN PRESS, PAUL CHIASSON
After two years of intense pressure, the time has come for a meeting between Prime Minister Trudeau and his provincial counterparts, considers Mr. Legault.
« I really felt a desire to move forward on this issue, » said the Premier of Quebec, during a press scrum after a first official head-to-head – of about one hour – with his federal counterpart since the Oct. 3 election.
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“I admit that I am more confident today than I was before the meeting, on the possibility that we will have a meeting of the premiers of the provinces and territories with Mr. Trudeau and that we will reach an agreement. […] so that the federal government increases long-term funding for health care in the various provinces,” said Mr. Legault.
The CAQ leader indicated that his government has “no problem” sharing “data that is already public” with Ottawa concerning the Quebec health network. He prefers this « compromise » to any other condition that the Trudeau government would like to impose in exchange for more generous funding.
On the side of the Trudeau cabinet, it is made more “a question of transparency”, rather than a condition.
The two Prime Ministers also discussed Roxham Road, where 98% of irregular entries into Canada occur.
In particular, talks are said to be underway with the Atlantic provinces and Ontario so that they can welcome part of this migratory flow.
« I felt an opening for some of these newcomers to be transferred to other provinces, because there is a certain urgency to act, » said Mr. Legault.
“We still have a good percentage of these people who arrive via Roxham who are not really political refugees within the meaning of the law, that is to say that their life is not in danger in their country”, he reminded
“People who are not political refugees, we could return them to their homes. It would take the pressure off the services and then on francization, ”he said.
The CAQ chief insisted that Ottawa reduce the processing times for asylum applications. “It takes two years for the evaluation to be completed. I would rather aim for two months than two years,” said Mr. Legault.
In the entourage of Mr. Trudeau, if we recognize two years, “it is unacceptable”, “two months, it is too short”, we indicated to the Journal.
In terms of infrastructure, given the current context of inflation, MM. Legault and Trudeau have agreed to assume their respective shares of the increases in construction costs observed with various projects in which their governments are partners.
“I am thinking, among other things, of the Quebec tramway, the blue line in Montreal and then the construction of the railway bypass at Lac-Mégantic,” listed Mr. Legault, without however quantifying the extent of the additional costs for these three projects. .
“We agreed that the cost overruns would be assumed by the two governments in the same proportion as was agreed in the preliminary estimates,” said Mr. Legault.
For example, in the case of the tramway, federal funding covered 40% of the project costs originally estimated at $3.365 billion. According to the latest news, the bill for the project was around $4 billion. The cost update expected by the end of December has been postponed by the City of Quebec to the end of March.
PHOTO POOL THE CANADIAN PRESS, PAUL CHIASSON
MM. Trudeau and Legault first met in a café in Old Montreal, where they spoke briefly, in front of the cameras, with a few customers who were there.
During the shooting, they specified from the outset the points on the agenda of their meeting, which took place in a conference room located in the hotel adjacent to the café.
Unsurprisingly, the issues of protecting the French language, infrastructure, health care and the environment topped the list.
Mr. Legault took the opportunity to highlight the success of COP15 to protect nature, which ended in Montreal. In particular, he asked Ottawa to ensure that Quebec obtains permanent representation from Quebec in the Canadian delegation for future summits.
This meeting had first been planned last Friday, but the entourage of Justin Trudeau preferred to postpone it because of the winter conditions which risked complicating his travel by plane between Ottawa and Montreal.
– With the collaboration of The Canadian Press